It's one of the most important if not THE most important part of the novel - the opening. Daunting to say the least! I remember when I first created my list of potential literary agents that I wanted to query, it was stressful to read that if the query passed muster, a lot of agents wanted to look at the first chapter or two only.

It's hard not to overthink the beginning because it's the first impression, and it really matters.

That being said, here are some tips I have learned:

1. Jump right into the action and get the story going. Don't waste time on a lot of backstory - that can be added in later on.

2. One of your goals is to generate excitement with your reader and to make them connect to your story, your characters, etc. You want to create interest and sustain it as soon as possible. Keep the reader invested, give them a reason to keep turning page after page.

3. If you open with action, use short sentences and paragraphs. Keep the dialogue brief and to the point.

4. As soon as possible create the who, what, when, where, how and why of your story.

5. Introduce your main character right away. Give the reader the first possible opportunity to get to know the protagonist.

6. Hook the reader (for more about the "hook", read THIS).

7. The first line sets the tone for the rest of the novel, so decide what you want the tone to convey.

For more on this subject, here are some great articles:

How to create an opening

How to write a story opening

Write a suspensful opening


For more articles, visit my blog:

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Comment by Cheryl Bradshaw on April 7, 2011 at 4:42am

Hi there Dan,

Here's the interesting part - I was dying to be picked up by an agent several months ago and then went ahead and published my first book myself and it's doing great on its own (and with a little help for me making the marketing rounds, of course), and now I have a few agents interested, but I haven't found the right fit yet, and I also hesitate because of the way the industry is changing.  I want to see what they can work out for me first ;) and until then, I am thrilled with the way things are going.

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